NORTH­ERN CHARM

ALAN FORMBY JACK­SON AND FAM­ILY EN­JOY A FIRST-CLASS VISIT TO THE GREAT NORTH­ERN HO­TEL IN LON­DON

Uxbridge Gazette - - Get Away -

LO­CA­TION is key to a lot of things. Your home, a hol­i­day and cer­tainly a ho­tel. The Great North­ern Ho­tel is slap bang next to one of the main hubs of Lon­don – King’s Cross train sta­tion – and is ide­ally placed to spend some time in the cap­i­tal.

The ho­tel opened in 1854 and was ren­o­vated to a beau­ti­ful stan­dard in 2013. The stun­ning curved Vic­to­rian build­ing leaves a bold stamp on the busy land­scape and is im­pos­si­ble to miss.

If you step into the grand GNH bar, which backs di­rectly into King’s Cross Sta­tion, guests and trav­ellers alike can eas­ily pre­tend they are walk­ing in the shoes of the elite and wealthy glo­be­trot­ters of days gone by. It’s a stun­ning room, with huge crys­tal chan­de­liers, mar­ble, pewter and mir­rored ceil­ings.

Back in the main part of the ho­tel, 90 rooms on six floors have been re­stored and re-de­signed with high ceil­ings and curved cor­ri­dors cre­at­ing a great sense of light and space. In the stylish re­cep­tion area, wel­com­ing staff en­sured a timely check-in.

We had two rooms booked for all the fam­ily. A Couchette room is styled on a clas­sic rail­way sleeper but with a lux­u­ri­ous twist. It’s cosy and has plenty of light and is very com­fort­able.

In the other room, the Cu­bitt, there’s be­spoke leather and wal­nut fur­ni­ture, a king-size bed, and a vin­tage-style Le­froy-Brooks bath­room.

On the way to the room, we no­ticed at the end of our cor­ri­dor a com­pli­men­tary pantry, which gives guests a touch of home com­forts in their ex­quis­ite sur­round­ings. Sit­u­ated at the end of each floor, the kitchens of­fer home­made cakes, sweets, fresh milk and a good se­lec­tion of tea and cof­fee – again bal­anc­ing old-fash­ioned charm with mod­ern essen­tials. A re­ally nice touch which I’ve never seen be­fore in a ho­tel.

Af­ter set­tling in, top of the list for a visit was the Nat­u­ral His­tory Mu­seum – home to more than 350 sci­en­tists and a col­lec­tion of 80 mil­lion spec­i­mens from the nat­u­ral world.

One of its cur­rent ex­hi­bi­tions, Life in the

Dark, ex­plores the world of noc­tur­nal an­i­mals where you can dis­cover how they find their way around, hunt, mate and evade preda­tors. You can ven­ture into the bat cave and also take a deep breath and im­merse your­self in the beauty of the un­der­wa­ter bi­o­lu­mi­nes­cent dis­play.

You’ll wan­der round in awe, mouth open. It’s well worth a visit and you could eas­ily spend all day here.

As we were in the area, we vis­ited the Vic­to­ria and Al­bert Mu­seum just down the road. It’s one of the world’s lead­ing mu­se­ums of art and de­sign, hous­ing a per­ma­nent col­lec­tion of more than 2.3 mil­lion ob­jects that span over 5,000 years of hu­man cre­ativ­ity.

We saw the Frida Kahlo ex­hi­bi­tion which pre­sented a col­lec­tion of the Mex­i­can artist’s per­sonal ar­ti­facts and cloth­ing, which was fas­ci­nat­ing, and we caught The Fu­ture Starts Here ex­hi­bi­tion, which brings to­gether more than 100 ob­jects and ex­am­ines where our world is head­ing in the fu­ture.

Keep­ing to a busy sched­ule, we took the tube to Le­ices­ter Square and grabbed some­thing to eat.

As you would ex­pect, there’s loads of choice in the area. We opted for MOD pizza on Irv­ing Street be­fore head­ing off to see the mu­si­cal Strictly Ball­room at the Pic­cadilly Theatre.

Writ­ten by Baz Luhrmann – of Moulin Rouge!, Romeo and Juliet and The Great Gatsby – as a stage play which he then made into a film in 1992, the mu­si­cal, in­spired by the now clas­sic film, tells the story of Scott, a com­pet­i­tive ball­room dancer in Eight­ies Aus­tralia who makes up his own moves and finds him­self ag­gra­vat­ing ball­room purists.

He fol­lows his heart to not only find his true call­ing in dance, but to also find his true love.

The show is bril­liant. Funny and en­er­getic, the cast were all fan­tas­tic dancers and singers and you could see they were re­ally giv­ing their all.

While the West End has plenty to pick from, show-wise, you won’t go wrong with this one. It’s on un­til Oc­to­ber 27.

The fol­low­ing morn­ing we had a tasty break­fast, served un­til a civilised 11am at the week­end. We both went for a full English and you won’t be dis­ap­pointed.

On the sub­ject of eat­ing, later in the day we en­joyed a fab­u­lous meal at the ho­tel’s Plum + Spilt Milk restau­rant. It serves sim­ple clas­sics, cooked by ac­claimed chef Mark Sargeant.

From slow roast shoul­der of spring lamb, Jer­sey roy­als and spring veg­eta­bles to West­combe ri­cotta and spinach can­nel­loni, the food is top class, and was a fit­ting way to end a fab­u­lous week­end in the cap­i­tal.

The ex­te­rior of the Great North­ern Ho­tel, next to Kings Cross

Plum + Spilt Milk restau­rant

Couchette room

The GNH Bar

Le­ices­ter Square

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